New Mexico Goes Apesh*t Over Plan to Start Producing Horse Meat

Source: PolicyMic.com

With Walter White stealing the spotlight for New Mexico in the AMC hit show “Breaking Bad,” it was only a matter of time before other questionable activities from the area entered the spotlight. A New Mexico slaughterhouse had stated it has plans to begin killing horses for meat this week, in the face of an impending lawsuit as well as a fire that damaged five of the facility’s compressors beyond repair. Why would people want to begin slaughtering an animal that’s beloved for the Kentucky Derby and romantic carriage rides? And why is arson allegedly involved?

The concern here seems to be twofold: the protection of human beings from horse meat consumption, and the protection of the horses themselves. While the wellbeing of horses and the safety of what humans consume could clearly be argued as divergent issues, the situation is a microcosm of how poorly our government can function.

Several animal rights groups have filed lawsuits against the Agriculture Department, seeking to prevent inspection of horse meat that some companies want to produce for human consumption. The Obama administration has implored Congress to ban horse slaughter again after a congressional ban in 2007, which expired in 2011 and was not subsequently extended. The Agriculture Department has stated that until a ban happens through legislation, inspection services must be provided. In a July New York Times article, Hilary Wood, the president of Front Range Equine Rescue, said, “The USDA has failed to consider the basic fact that horses are not raised as a food animal. House owners provide their horses with a number of substances dangerous to human health. To blatantly ignore this fact jeopardizes human health as well as the environment surrounding a horse slaughter plant.”

The ban expired in 2011 and now the slaughter of horses and the facilities conducting them are at the mercy of seemingly ad hoc rules and regulations. The creation and maintenance of the inspection services will probably never reach their desired outcomes, as a plant in Iowa has also begun to produce equine meat for consumption. If other plants wish to move quickly and take advantage of the inspection services, now would be the time.

Either way, this deserves great media attention, because Seabiscuit’s gene pool may be appearing at a grocery store near you while our government (including a very bad Congress, I might add) continues to fail us.

Picture Credit: foodsafetynews

GAO Accused Of Fraud As Horse Slaughter Plants Fight To Open

Source: Forbes.com

A 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report came under fire last week for misrepresenting data that was used to push Congress to end a five-year ban on funding horse meat inspections.

In a new study, “How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Slaughter,” the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) ties fraudulent GAO data on horse abuse and neglect to a campaign by three Congressmen to reinstate the low-margin, poorly regulated horse-slaughter industry, which lost funding for required USDA inspections and shut down in 2007 after a long and costly legal battle at the local, state and federal level.

The EWA is an umbrella organization representing 290 member organizations in 21 countries. The release of its study and an accompanying YouTube video coincides with a fight over the planned opening of two plants in New Mexico and Iowa, pending a federal court decision that could put them in business within a matter of weeks.

Several other plants are also seeking inspections permits from the USDA at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $400,000 per facility. The meat would be exported, except for some going to domestic zoos. It will not be available to U.S. diners, in any event.

GAO report 11-228 (entitled “Actions Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter”) was commissioned in 2010 by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and published in June, 2011. Within several months, the three Congressmen stripped out the defunding language from the 2012 agricultural appropriations bill during a conference committee session, citing the GAO report’s claim that a surge in horse abuse and neglect was tied to the plant closings.

But that’s not true. Horse slaughter didn’t cease when the U.S. plants closed; it simply moved over our borders. Regardless, horse abuse and neglect was a relatively small problem during that period that was actually in decline.

The GAO, however, cherry-picked data to create the appearance of a huge and widening horse welfare crisis. It then sold the U.S. Congress and the public on the idea that bringing horse slaughter plants back to the U.S. could curtail an epidemic of inhumane treatment of horses.

The Equine Welfare Alliance’s new study zeroes in on the only real statistic in the GAO report: a purported 60% rise in horse abuse and neglect in the state of Colorado between 2005-2009 that has since been brandished by legislators and echoed by news organizations as proof that a lack of domestic slaughter facilities causes horses to suffer immeasurably.

As the GAO report itself states, “Comprehensive, national data are lacking, but state, local government and animal welfare organizations report a rise in investigations for horse neglect and abuse since 2007. For example, Colorado data showed that investigations for horse neglect and abuse increased more than 60% from 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009.”

But the plants closed in 2007, not 2005 and the GAO had access to data through 2010. “By fudging the dates, the GAO blamed two years of increasing abuse on something that had not even happened yet and conveniently got rid of one year of declining abuse by omitting 2010,” the EWA study states.

Read the rest of the story and comment HERE.

Magistrate orders bond posted in NM horse slaughter case

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

ALBUQUERQUE — A federal magistrate has ordered the animal rights groups that won a temporary ban on domestic horse slaughter to post a bond of nearly $500,000 as their legal challenge continues.

U.S. Magistrate Robert Scott settled on the amount after hearing Thursday from attorneys who represent two companies that had planned to begin operations this week at horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico and Iowa.

The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue and others won a temporary restraining order last week that blocked Valley Meat Co. and Responsible Transport from opening their plants.

The bond will cover the companies’ losses for the next 30 days should the animal rights groups lose the case. The groups are challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow the plants to open.

Judge blocks permit for horse slaughter facility

Source: News-Leader.com

A judge has blocked a Missouri company from obtaining a permit for a horse slaughter facility, at least temporarily.

Cole County Judge Daniel Green ordered the Department of Natural Resources wait to issue a wastewater permit to Rains Natural Meats, which had proposed to operate the facility near Gallatin, until after he hears the case.

The company submitted an application to DNR for the permit, which would allow it to collect and land-apply the wastewater from its proposed horse slaughter facility.

But three parties sued the DNR to block the permit. One is Barbara Sink, a Daviess County resident who is described in the lawsuit as “passionate about horses” and would be “aggrieved” if the horse slaughter plant were to open, and the other two are Missouri horse rescue groups.

The opponents — staunch opponents of horse slaughter — argue the facility would involve the slaughter of horses treated with a gamut of drugs that could be dangerous to human health.

“While the type of permit Rains applied for would allow the discharge of certain substances, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, oil and grease, the permit does not authorize the storage and land application of these equine drugs which are banned for use in humans and other animals,” said Steve Jeffery, attorney for the plaintiffs. “Consequently, DNR lacks legal authority to approve Rains’ application.”

David Rains, vice president of Rains Natural Meats, called the judge’s order “illegal” and said he was fighting to have it overturned.

“It’s all done on emotion and not on science,” he said.

Rains said opponents of the proposed horse-slaughter plant have argued runoff from the facility would contaminate the water or soil in the area. But “all the blood and the offal goes to the rendering companies, so none of it is dumped by any means,” he said.

His company has intervened in the lawsuit and said the next showdown will be at a hearing set for Thursday.

According to the petition filed by Jeffery, four horse veterinarians provided information that horses can receive more than 100 different drugs that are not authorized for use in humans, cattle, hogs or poultry. They also said studies show those drugs are contained in the wastewater at horse slaughter facilities.

USDA officials have suggested that Rains Natural Meats is on the verge of securing a permit from the Food Safety Inspection Service to open the horse slaughter plant. FSIS has already issued two other permits for horse-slaughter operations — one in New Mexico and another in Iowa.

But Rains said the USDA will not give his company a permit until the Missouri Department of Natural Resources green-lights the request to operate a “closed lagoon,” where workers would “clean and wash the animals down after they’re skinned.”

That permit is what’s at issue in the state lawsuit.

DNR has until Sept. 5 to file a response to the lawsuit.

Bipartisan Bill Aims to Halt Cruel Form of Horse Transport

AWI news release

Contact: Chris Heyde, (202) 446-2142 chris@awionline.org

Washington, D.C. (August 6, 2013) – The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomes the reintroduction of S. 1459, the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013, by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The bill, which prohibits the hauling of horses on livestock trailers containing one level on top of the other, has garnered bipartisan support in Congress, as well from the welfare, veterinary and agriculture communities.

“It is time we put an end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in double-decker trailers,” Senator Kirk said. “A 2007 accident in Illinois involving one of these trailers killed 15 horses. It is not only a cruel way to transport horses, but it also puts motorists’ lives at risk.”

Double-deck livestock trailers on the road today were built to meet the specific design and engineering requirements of short-necked livestock species, like cattle, sheep, and swine. Unfortunately, some irresponsible haulers use these trailers to transport horses, leading to inhumane travel conditions for equines and unsafe roadways for drivers. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the National Agriculture Safety Database (NASD) have recommended ceiling heights no lower than 7’–8’ to transport horses safely, while average double deck trailer ceiling heights range from 4’7” –5‘11”. The U.S. Department of Transportation only requires bridges to have a vertical clearance of 14′–16’ in rural and urban areas, making it impossible to build or modify a trailer large enough to transport equines on two levels.

“Double-decker trailers are designed for cattle and hogs, not horses,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation would put a much needed end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in trailers with two or more levels stacked on top of each other, regardless of the purpose. Not only is this type of conveyance cruel, but it also jeopardizes safe roadway conditions for New Jerseyans and all of those who travel through our state.”

“AWI is pleased that Senator Kirk has reintroduced this important bill with his colleague Senator Menendez during the 113th Congress,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs at AWI. “The humane transportation of animals has long been a top priority for AWI and it is time to eliminate this inhumane practice with respect to horses.”

The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013 (S. 1459) is necessary to protect horses from being transported across the United States for any reason in a trailer having more than one level. To learn more about this issue or to write a letter to your senator in support of S. 1459, please visit www.CompassionIndex.org.

About AWI

The Animal Welfare Institute is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 to alleviate the suffering caused to animals by humans. For more information, please visit AWI online at http://www.awionline.org. Also, be sure to follow AWI on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/animalwelfareinstitute and Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AWIOnline.

Future uncertain for horse slaughter in Oklahoma

Source: Tulsa World

“…the record of environmental damage from previously existing horse-slaughter facilities is horrific…”

..

OKLAHOMA CITY – A controversial law allowing for the slaughtering of horses takes effect Nov. 1, but whether or not the state will be home to such a facility remains to be seen.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1999, by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, and Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, despite concerns that the slaughtering of horses was not humane.

The commercial consumption of horse meat is banned nationwide, Fields said. Some foreign countries allow horse meat consumption.

Supporters say the measure was needed because horses are being shipped out of the country and slaughtered in an inhumane manner. Supporters also say it is a private property rights issue.

Fields said he is not aware of any efforts to build a facility in Oklahoma.

“My goal is not necessarily to bring one,” McNiel said. “I am not out promoting it. Once I passed the bill, I was done.”

Prior to the measure’s passage, Ahsan Amil of Oklahoma Meat Company based in Washington, Okla., applied for a federal inspection with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Amil said he did so because at the time, he was considering leasing or selling his plant and interested parties wanted him to seek approval. He is no longer pursuing the issue, he said.

Meanwhile, horse-slaughter plants are planned in New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri and Tennessee. The plants in New Mexico and Iowa have been approved.

But a suit brought by the Humane Society of the United States and animal protection organizations put horse slaughter on hold.

A federal judge approved an injunction Friday to temporarily halt efforts.

The suit alleges that the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to conduct the necessary environmental review before authorizing horse slaughterhouses to operate.

“We’ve won a temporary but life-saving reprieve for horses, and it’s good news indeed that the kill boxes in New Mexico and Iowa will be empty of horses in the weeks ahead,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, in a statement issued Friday. “We’ll continue to make arguments when our case resumes in a month that these plants cannot legally operate because of inadequate environmental review.”

A senior attorney for the Humane Society, Kimberly Ockene, said that “the record of environmental damage from previously existing horse-slaughter facilities is horrific, including residents of the community surrounding the facilities finding blood and horse tissue in their tap water.”

“This alone should be enough to require the agency to conduct a careful environmental review prior to authorizing inspections at new facilities. In addition, horses are flight animals who are not raised in confinement and thus the slaughter process is extremely inhumane,” Ockene said.

A. Blair Dunn is an Albuquerque, N.M., attorney representing Valley Meat Co., near Roswell, N.M., and Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Mo.

“We have severe problems in this country with abandoned and neglected horses,” he said.

He said he understands the emotional side of the issue and the bonds humans make with horses.

“They don’t agree with the underlying issue of processing of horses,” he said. “They are using this as an excuse to slow things down in order to get Congress to do something because they are unsatisfied with the current law.”

The Federal Meat Inspection Act requires facilities seeking to slaughter animals for human food and prepared for commerce to be inspected, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

From 2007 until 2011, Congress banned the use of federal dollars for the inspections of horse-slaughter facilities, effectively prohibiting the inspections.

The ban was recently lifted.

“Since Congress has not yet acted to ban horse-slaughter inspection, FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Service) was legally required to issue a grant of inspection to Valley Meats in Roswell, N.M., and Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, for equine slaughter,” said an USDA representative.

Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the agency must issue a grant of inspection once an establishment has satisfied all federal requirements, the representative said.

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” the agency representative said.

“Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has no responsibility over horse-slaughter facilities, said Kirby Smith, public information manager.

“That responsibility lies with the USDA,” she said.

Laws governing the slaughter of horses and horse meat consumption vary from state to state, said Holly Gann, the Humane Society’s horse slaughter campaign manager.

Read and COMMENT on the story HERE.

Advocates question GAO report on horse slaughter

Source: HorseTalk

American horse advocates have called into question the reliability of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which it said helped open the way for the resumption of horse slaughter on US soil.

The Equine Welfare Alliance and the Animal Law Coalition allege figures in the report, entitled “Horse Welfare: Action needed to address unintended consequences from cessation of domestic slaughter”, were presented in a misleading way.

In doing so, the GAO misrepresented horse abuse and neglect, the groups allege.

The report blamed falling horse prices and increased abuse and neglect on the closing of domestic slaughter plants in 2007.

The groups noted that shortly after the GAO issued its report, a conference committee reinstated funding for horse slaughter inspections, opening the way for slaughter to return to the US.

They said the report was widely quoted in the media and was also used as evidence in the lawsuit filed by Valley Meat Company in New Mexico against the US Department of Agriculture in its bid to get federal plant inspections approved for its horse abattoir in New Mexico.

The alliance, an umbrella group for more than 300 member organisations and more than 1000 individuals, said its own research indicated neglect levels were tied to hay prices, which had soared in a drought in 2007 and 2008.

Hay prices had also risen, it said, as a result of altering land use from 2005, with more corn planted instead of alfafa and pasture to meet the needs of the growing ethanol industry.

Alliance president John Holland said his organisation discovered issues with the data in relation to horse abuse in Colorado while conducting its own research.

“We were looking for the correlation between various factors such as unemployment, slaughter and hay prices on a state by state basis,” Holland said, “and when we looked at the Colorado data, we were reminded of its mention in the GAO report.”

Click (HERE) to read the article in it’s entirety at HorseTalk _________________________________________________________________________

PRESS RELEASE

EWA and ALC produce evidence showing GAO Horse Welfare report was fraudulent

EWA (Chicago) – The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and the Animal Law Coalition (ALC) announced today that they have irrefutable evidence showing that the Government Accountability Office fraudulently misrepresented horse abuse and neglect data in their report GAO 11-228.The GAO report blamed falling horse prices and increased abuse and neglect on the closing of the domestic slaughter plants in 2007. Shortly after GAO issued the report, a conference committee reinstated funding for horse slaughter inspections, opening the way for slaughter to return to the US. Widely quoted in the media, the report is also provided as evidence in the lawsuit filed by Valley Meats against the USDA.

The EWA and ALC have provided both a video and a white paper showing how the fraud was committed. The ten minute video, How the GAO deceived Congress about horse slaughter wasreleased on YouTube, and shows step by step how the GAO hid information in its possession showing abuse and neglect was in decline and misrepresented the data as showing it was increasing.

The fraud was discovered by the EWA while collecting data for equine abuse and neglect rates across the country. “We were looking for the correlation between various factors such as unemployment, slaughter and hay prices on a state by state basis,” explained EWA’s John Holland, “and when we looked at the Colorado data, we were reminded of its mention in the GAO report.”The GAO claimed in the report to have contacted state veterinarians across the country and to have been told that abuse and neglect was increasing everywhere in the wake of the closing of the US plants in 2007. These were the same officials EWA contacted looking for states that kept records.

The EWA found data from six states; Oregon, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Georgia and Colorado. The records showed that abuse and neglect had been in decline between 2008 and 2010 (the last year of the GAO study), and that the GAO had used the wrong dates on the Colorado data to make it appear abuse had increased 60%.

“We had accepted that abuse was probably increasing as the result of the bad economy,” says Holland, “so imagine our surprise when we found it had been decreasing.” The EWA study finally showed the reason: drought. Drought and the subsequent increases in hay prices correlated tightly with the abuse and neglect numbers, and outweighed the influence of the recession and other factors.

“Not only did the GAO misrepresent the data, they completely missed the importance of hay prices and availability.” said Holland. The EWA filed a FOIA request for the data used by the GAO and the request was denied. The EWA also filed an IG complaint, and finally had a conference callwith the GAO to request the report be withdrawn. The GAO refused any response except to say that their reports were flawlessly cross checked.

Victoria McCullough, owner of Chesapeake Petroleum and internationally known equestrian, said “Acceptance of lower standards results in failed policies and most significantly failures of public interest. Special Interest encroachment within Washington must not be allowed to erode public trust.”

- # -

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSxUPNgzgn4&feature=youtu.be

White Paper: http://www.equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/How_the_GAO_Deceived_Congress-final.pdf

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) is a dues-free 501c4, umbrella organization with over 300member organizations and over 1,000 individual members worldwide in 21 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids. www.equinewelfarealliance.org

The Animal Law Coalition (ALC) is a coalition of pet owners and rescuers, advocates, attorneys, law students, veterinarians, shelter workers, decision makers, and other citizens, that advocates for the rights of animals to live and live free of cruelty and neglect. www.animallawcoalition.com

Judge halts plans by companies in 2 states to slaughter horses

VIDEO NEWS REPORT from KAOT-7 Albuquerque

Source: Los Angeles Times

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge on Friday temporarily halted plans by companies in New Mexico and Iowa to start slaughtering horses next week.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo issued a restraining order in a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States and other groups in a case that has sparked an emotional national debate about how best to deal with the tens of thousands of unwanted and abandoned horses across the country.

Armijo issued a restraining order and scheduled another hearing for Monday in the lawsuit. The move stops what would have been the resumption of horse slaughtering for the first time in seven years in the U.S.

The groups contend that the Department of Agriculture failed to do the proper environmental studies before issuing permits that allowed companies in Iowa and New Mexico to open horse slaughterhouses. The companies had said they wanted to open as soon as Monday.

The horse meat would be exported for human consumption and for use as zoo and other animal food.

Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, N.M., has been at the fore of the fight, pushing for more than a year for permission to convert its cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse.

The Department of Agriculture in June gave the company the go-ahead to begin slaughtering horses.USDA officials said they were legally obligated to issue the permits, even though the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter and is seeking to reinstate a congressional ban that was lifted in 2011.

Another permit was approved a few days later for Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.

The move has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Native American tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country’s horse overpopulation.

Some tribes, including the Navajo and Yakama, are among those who are pushing to let the companies open. They say the exploding horse populations on their reservations are trampling and overgrazing rangelands, decimating forage resources for cattle and causing widespread environmental damage.

The Navajo Nation, the nation’s largest Indian reservation, estimates there are 75,000 horses on its land, many of which are dehydrated and starving after years of drought.

On the other side, actor Robert Redford, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, current Gov.Susana Martinez and state Atty. Gen. Gary King are among those who strongly oppose a return to domestic horse slaughter, citing the animals’ iconic role as companion animals in the West.

“Horse slaughter has no place in our culture,” Redford said in a statement last week in announcing formation of a foundation that has joined the fight. “It is cruel, inhumane, and perpetuates abuse and neglect of these beloved animals. We must oppose it with all of our might.”

Supporters of domestic slaughter point to a June 2011 report from the federal Government Accountability Office that shows cases of horse abuse and abandonment on a steady rise sinceCongress in effect banned horse slaughter by cutting funding for USDA inspection programs in 2006.

They also cite USDA statistics compiled by the Equine Welfare Alliance that shows the number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter had nearly tripled since domestic horse slaughter ceased, with many of those being shipped thousands of miles to points south of the border to be slaughtered in unregulated and inhumane facilities.

They said it is better to slaughter the horses in regulated and humane domestic facilities than to let them starve or be shipped to Mexico.

Read and COMMENT here: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-judge-halts-horse-slaughter-plans-20130802,0,7092508.story

____________________________________________________________________________________________

From the desk of former New Mexico Governor Richardson

Former Governor Richardson Applauds Court Victory that Blocks Horse Slaughter

SANTA FE, NM-The Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife, founded by former Governor Bill Richardson and Robert Redford, is applauding today’s decision by a federal court judge to grant a restraining order blocking horse slaughterhouses from reopening in the United States.

The Foundation was one of several plaintiffs seeking to stop horse slaughter through a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Agriculture that claimed the agency did not conduct appropriate environmental reviews before giving horse slaughterhouses the green light to open.

“This is a huge victory for those of us who adamantly oppose horse slaughter, the animals that we are working so hard to protect, and the environment” Former Governor Richardson said. “However, this fight isn’t over. The Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife will continue to seek an all out federal ban on horse slaughter, as well as urge officials to find new horse rescue and retirement solutions.”

Possible Arson at Valley Meat Co Slaughterhouse

Source: El Paso Times

An arsonist struck at a proposed horse-slaughter plant near Roswell on Saturday night, the company’s attorney said.

The lawyer, A. Blair Dunn, said “no major damage” was done to Valley Meat Co. But, Dunn said, the fire was a sign that Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos and his family are in danger because of the running debate over the slaughter plant.

“It was an act of domestic terrorism,” Dunn said in an interview Tuesday.

Valley Meat hopes to be one of the first two companies in the United States to resume a horse-slaughter business. It is facing opposition from animal groups, politicians and even celebrities such as actor Robert Redford.

Dunn said the De Los Santos family had grown accustomed to taunts and criticism, but the arson renewed fears about physical violence.

He said he would forward complaints about the fire to the FBI and sheriff.

Lt. Britt Snyder of the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office said a volunteer fire company handled the call and the initial investigation.

“It would appear to be an arson,” Snyder said in a phone interview.

He said the sheriff’s office was not on the case but would assist if fire investigators sought its help.

Dunn said he had decided that De Los Santos would not attend a hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque regarding the slaughter plant.

“They will not be in court. I don’t want them subjected to anything,” Dunn said.

The Humane Society of the United States and other groups are seeking a court injunction to prevent Valley Meat and an Iowa plant from starting their horse slaughter businesses next month.

Valley Meat and the U.S. government will be in “an odd alliance” at the hearing, Dunn said.

The company has been fighting the government for inaction in restarting horse slaughter in the United States after a hiatus of six years. Now they are on the same side as they oppose an injunction, Dunn said.

De Los Santos said in a recent interview that he was pessimistic about his plant being authorized for horse slaughter, mostly because political opposition was so heavy.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and former governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, both have publicly opposed the horse slaughter plant.

State Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat running for governor, also is fighting the plant, though his stand is more formal. King has filed to intervene in the court case on the grounds that horse slaughter should be barred because of drugs equines often receive. King says their meat would not be fit for consumption under state food laws, a position Dunn said was incorrect.

Last year, about 159,000 horses were shipped to Mexico and Canada, primarily for slaughter. Though horse slaughter is occurring in border countries, De Los Santos said, he is under siege from politicians and groups doing nothing to prevent the abandonment and starvation of horses in New Mexico.

“We’re trying to make a living,” De Los Santos said in an interview. “Politicians are interested in campaign contributions.”

Dunn said members of the De Los Santos family had received death threats earlier this year. He said he asked the FBI to investigate the threats, and a file on the case had been opened.

If Valley Meat enters the horse market, grocers and restaurants in Europe would be its primary market.

Read the article and COMMENT here: {El Paso Times}

PA woman runs farm to save horses from slaughter

Source: The Mercury

MCCLELLANDTOWN, Pa. — When they’re no longer the front runner, racehorses can face a bleak future. A German Township woman is changing the fate for some animals nearing the homestretch of their racing careers.

Vicki Vicheck operates The Thoroughbred Connection, a racehorse rescue farm, for the sole purpose of giving race horses respite and a safe home when they are no longer able to win and bring in cash.

“They can’t speak for themselves and someone has to help them,” said Vicheck. “The horses look like, ‘please help me.’”

The Adah woman’s efforts began in 2006 while watching her own horse race at Thistledown in Cleveland. At the end of the meet she saw horses being loaded onto a “kill truck” after which, she explained, they would be taken to auction where a broker would try to resell the animal — if the horse cannot be sold it is crammed onto a cattle trailer and taken to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

“I knew my horses were safe, but what could I do for the other ones that were dying or breaking down in the truck because some trainers are greedy?” she asked.

Vicheck came home from the track that day with her horse, Northern Gala, and four others.

___ Life in the race

A thoroughbred’s life as a racehorse begins while still a foal, when it is taken from its mother to begin a training regimen. As a yearling, the horse is auctioned off to a trainer, where it will train on average for a year and begin its racing career between 2 and 3 years of age, which critics say is too young as their frames are not developed enough for the rigors of training and racing.

On average, horses race about three years before being retired. Some mares and studs are retired for breeding, but many won’t find lush pastures at the end of their racing careers.

Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of thoroughbred horses and foals in the U.S. have been sent to slaughter and their meat shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Even before the rescue farm got its official start, Vichek had already rescued several horses from what HSUS calls the “slaughter pipeline.”

___ Creating the connection

The Thoroughbred Connection Inc. was formally formed in July 2011, when Vichek rescued Cracked Cup, a 20-year-old gelding.

“A friend from California followed Cracked Cup from rescue to rescue and called me to take him. He was featured in a racing magazine as the horse no one wanted,” said Vichek.

Cracked Cup earned a mere $36,131 in his racing career, far less than Vicheck’s other rescue Grafton, which earned over $353,000.

Both are now retired to pastures at the rescue farm.

Read the rest of the story here: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130727/NEWS03/130729484/pa-woman-runs-farm-to-save-horses-from-slaughter#full_story

NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES DIVIDED ON HORSE SLAUGHTER

Source: FoodProductDesign.com By Josh Long

ALBUQUERQUE—A lawsuit that challenges the revival of horse slaughter in the United States illustrates the divisiveness of the practice even among the people who have considered the animals sacred for centuries: Native Americans.

The Chief of the Minikoju Band of the Cheyenne River Tribe Lakota Indians—Chief David Bald Eagle—is among the plaintiffs who are seeking to enjoin the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from authorizing the resumption of horse slaughter for human consumption after a years-long hiatus.

USDA officials have been accused of violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by neglecting to prepare an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment before granting inspection to horse slaughter plants and implementing a residue testing program for the animals.

Horse slaughter is considered vile by at least some animal-rights organizations and Americans, including natives with roots that long predate the U.S. government in charge of overseeing the practice.

“The Lakota and Chief David Bald Eagle believe that abusing a horse, including slaughtering a horse for human consumption, will bring misfortune or death to the abuser,” according to the 40-page lawsuit that was filed in New Mexico federal court. “The Lakota and Chief David Bald Eagle also believe that allowing the slaughter of horses on Native American land will not benefit the tribal nations, but instead will be an opportunity for more control by the non-native government and outside special interests.”

Sandy Schaefer, a member of the Sioux tribe, is another plaintiff  in the case. She resides in Roswell, N.M., where Valley Meat Company LLC plans to slaughter horses after USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service last month issued a “Grant of Inspection” to the business.

According to the lawsuit, Schaefer considers horse slaughter “greedy, disrespectful and contrary to the Native Americans’ relationship with its brother nation, the horse nation.”

But individuals who support horse slaughter maintain that many horses are unwanted in America, including on Indian reservations, and that an overpopulation causes damage to the lands.

James Stephenson, who is employed as a big game biologist by the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation in Washington, cites an overpopulation of wild/feral horses on the 1.3 million acres of land his employer manages and owns.

The Yakama Nation projects the current horse population is 12,000 and it is expected to double every four years because the Yakama Nation has no way to control the population, he stated in a declaration filed with the federal court in the New Mexico lawsuit.

Stephenson said he has seen horses who have been abandoned and “appeared on the verge of starvation.”

“The increased number of horses on the reservation is causing compaction on the soil and is destroying traditional food and medicinal plants, such as camas, bitterroot, Indian celery, wild onions and many other plants of significance to the tribal members by trampling and overgrazing,” he stated.

Concluded Stephenson: “I believe it is critical to allow horse slaughter again in the United States because without it, the Yakama Nation is suffering massive economic and environmental damage.”

In 2007, Congress ended horse slaughter for human consumption. Four years later, lawmakers appropriated funding for inspection of horse slaughter facilities. At least six applications have been submitted to USDA to resume this activity.

The Obama Administration has asked Congress to reinstate the ban. Although lawmakers haven’t done so, the appropriations committees in the House and Senate have voted to eliminate funds for inspection of horse slaughter facilities.

Last month, a committee of the 69-year-old National Congress of American Indians adopted a resolution, which supported the resumption of horse slaughter facilities and opposed legislation that is aimed to ban such activity.

The resolution states, in part: “Whereas, the Economic Development/Natural Resources committee agrees that the horse market represents the only economically viable means of reducing the size of feral herds damaging reservation environments and would further assist reservation horse producers who need to sustain their livestock operations, in the productive utilization of tribal and allotted lands”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Redford, Bill Richardson fight against NM horse slaughter plant

Source: ABC News By JERI CLAUSING Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. July 22, 2013 (AP)

A New Mexico company’s hard-fought attempt to convert its cattle plant to a horse slaughterhouse was dealt a series of new blows Monday, with the state denying its wastewater permit and actor Robert Redford, former Gov. Bill Richardson and the state attorney general announcing plans to intervene in a lawsuit seeking to block a return to domestic horse slaughter.

The New Mexico Environment Department told Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, which has a lapsed discharge permit, that it won’t renew the permit without a public hearing because of extensive comments already received.

Valley Meat Co. attorney Blair Dunn said the lack of a permit would not prevent the plant from opening as planned Aug. 5, but it would increase the cost of doing business because the plant would have to haul its waste.

Dunn accused the state of unfairly targeting a small, family-owned business. He noted that many dairies are operating around the state with lapsed permits.

He said the state ignored Valley’s request for a renewal until the horse slaughter debate became so divisive and Gov. Susana Martinez announced her strong opposition.

The denial came the same day that Redford and Richardson joined the fray, announcing formation of an animal protection foundation whose first act was to seek to join a federal lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups to block the planned Aug. 5 opening of Valley Meat and another recently approved horse slaughterhouse in Iowa. The plants would be the first horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. to operate in more than six years.

Also Monday, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he had filed a motion to intervene on behalf of horse slaughter opponents.

“Horse slaughter has no place in our culture,” said Redford.

In a telephone interview, Redford said he has been passionate about horses all of his life, and his love of the animals inspired his famous movies “The Horse Whisperer” and “The Electric Cowboy.”

The goal of the Foundation to Protect New Mexico Wildlife is to connect with other horse rescue and anti-slaughter groups to raise public awareness of the plight of horses in the West, he said, then assess longer term goals for the foundation. The group will also seek to protect wildlife and support animal shelters.

Redford said he and Richardson have both donated seed money to the group, but declined to say how much.

A lifelong horse lover, Richardson in a statement said he is committed to do “whatever it takes to stop the return of horse slaughterhouses in this country and, in particular, my own state.”

“Congress was right to ban the inhumane practice years ago, and it is unfathomable that the federal government is now poised to let it resume,” he said.

Dunn, the Valley Meat attorney, questioned why groups like Redford and Richardson’s don’t “use their money to actually save animals instead of harassing people in their lawful business?”

After more than a year of delays and a lawsuit by Valley Meat, the Department of Agriculture in June gave the company the go-ahead to begin slaughtering horses. USDA officials said they were legally obligated to issue the permits, even though the Obama administration opposes horse slaughter and is seeking to reinstate a congressional ban that was lifted in 2011.

Another permit was approved a few days later for Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa.

Meat from the slaughterhouses would be shipped to some countries for human consumption and for use as zoo and other animal food.

The move has divided horse rescue and animal welfare groups, ranchers, politicians and Indian tribes about what is the most humane way to deal with the country’s horse overpopulation and what rescue groups have said are a rising number of neglected and starving horses as the West deals with persistent drought.

An Aug. 2 hearing is set for the request by animal protection groups for a temporary restraining order to prevent the plants from opening.

Read this story and COMMENT here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/redford-richardson-fight-horse-slaughter-19737160 Same article posted here: http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_23707037/robert-redford-bill-richardson-fight-against-horse-slaughter

Ohio sends horses to Canada for slaughter

Source: The Columbia Dispatch By  Alan Johnson

Several times a week, trucks pulling long trailers filled with horses leave Ohio destined for Canada.

The animals, sometimes 30 or more in trailers typically used to transport cattle, are taken north of the border for slaughter and processing into meat for human consumption.

The practice is legal.

Fred E. Bauer, 61, of rural Hardin County, is one of Ohio’s largest such horse brokers, according to the Humane Society of the United States and Animals’ Angels, an animal-welfare group. He is listed as a livestock buyer for Bauer Farms.

A northwestern Ohio horseman who asked not to be identified said that Bauer regularly buys horses from farmers and at auctions, including a large one at Sugarcreek in Tuscarawas County where Amish and Mennonite farmers frequently take animals for sale. The horseman said Bauer regularly takes as many as five trailer loads of horses weekly to Canada for sale to a middleman or slaughterhouse.

Reached by phone for comment, Bauer had a terse response before hanging up: “I can’t see no need for that. Thank you.”

While many Americans are turned off by the idea of eating horse meat, it is consumed in France, Belgium, Japan, China and parts of South America. Europeans ate 119,000 tons of horse meat last year, nearly 20 percent of it coming from the U.S., the Humane Society said.

The United States has no horse slaughterhouses because in 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture withheld funds for meat inspectors, meaning that plants cannot operate. However, the USDA recently relented and has licensed slaughter plants in Iowa and New Mexico. Neither is yet in operation. Oklahoma lawmakers recently lifted that state’s 50-year ban on slaughtering horses.

Canada and Mexico have four plants each, and more than 166,000 U.S. horses were slaughtered for meat in those countries last year, according to U.S. and Canadian agricultural statistics.

The horse-slaughter plant closest to Ohio, the Richelieu Meat Co., is in Massueville, Quebec, east of Montreal. Undercover video from a group called the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition purportedly shows horses being killed there: An employee fires a .22-caliber rifle at the animal’s head from several feet away — sometimes requiring up to five shots.

Ohio was second to Michigan in shipping American horses to Canadian slaughterhouses between 2005 and 2007, according to Canadian-government trade records.

Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society’s president and chief executive officer, said his organization is supporting the Safeguard American Foods Exports Act pending in Congress. It would ban slaughtering horses for human consumption and shipping them out of the country for that purpose.

“There are unwanted horses, just like there are unwanted dogs and cats,” Pacelle said. “We’re not going to set up a dog-slaughter plant because people eat them in other countries. You euthanize horses or shoot them in the head, but you don’t jam them in cattle trucks and ship them hundreds of miles to Canada or Mexico.”

Animal [welfare] organizations say horses differ from beef cattle because they were used for sports, as pets, or as work animals and often were given drugs rendering them unfit for human consumption.

In contrast, a 2010 story by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis about Indiana horses’ being shipped to Canada quoted Martin Kouprie, a chef at Pangaea restaurant in Toronto, extolling horse meat as a delicacy.

“Horses are livestock. They’re not pets,” Kouprie said. “It’s a beautiful meat. It’s succulent. It’s sweet. It’s rich. It’s fine-textured. People just love it.”

REPORT: View a 2010 Indianapolis TV station report on horses transported to Canada for slaughtering.

ajohnson@dispatch.com

@ohioaj

Read and COMMENT on this story here: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/07/23/ohio-sends-horses-to-canada-for-slaughter.html

Support the SAFE Act : Iowa Slaughter Plant Approved

Source: Times-Republican

Letter in response to recent news.

July 23, 2013 Carol Griglione , Des Moines

Iowa has become ground zero in the national debate on horse slaughter, now that the USDA has cleared a horse slaughter plant to begin butchering horses here. Not only will our state earn the disdain of 80 percent of Americans who disapprove of horse slaughter, but Iowans will have a front row seat to animal suffering and environmental degradation.

It happened in Kaufman, Texas, where horses were slaughtered until 2007. The plant flooded the local water supply with blood, the stench of dead horses permeated the air and economies suffered. Slaughtering horses in Iowa could also tarnish our agricultural reputation – we would be contributing tainted meat to the food supply and risking the co-mingling of horse meat in beef products, which happened in Europe.

As animals raised for work and show, but not food, horses are given a variety of drugs that make their meat unfit for human consumption.

The horse slaughter industry is a predatory, inhumane enterprise. It doesn’t “euthanize” old and sick horses, but snatches up those that bring the best price per pound. It’s bad for horses, bad for communities and bad for human health.

It should be outlawed, and Congress is considering legislation to do just that. Urge your legislators to support the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, S. 541/H.R. 1094.

New Mexico AG Intervenes in Lawsuit to Halt Horse Slaughter Plant

Source: News Chanel 9 – KTSM

(ALBUQUERQUE)—Attorney General Gary King has filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit to stop a plant in Roswell from slaughtering horses for meat because federal authorities have not yet undertaken the required environmental review.  

Rick De Los Santos, owner of Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, stands in the slaughterhouse where he plans to butcher horses for the foreign meat market. (PAT VASQUEZ-CUNNINGHAM/JOURNAL)The AG’s motion, filed late last Friday, joins Front Range Equine Rescue, the Humane Society of the United States, and a variety of other groups and individuals that recently brought the lawsuit in federal district court.

AG King’s motion says New Mexico has a strong interest in ensuring that “commercial operations within its borders are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”  Attorney General King previously concluded in a legal analysis last month that “state law does not allow for production of meat that is chemically tainted under federal regulations.”

The lawsuit asks the district court to block Roswell’s Valley Meat Company and several plants in other states from beginning commercial horse slaughter until the United States Department of Agriculture undertakes a full and adequate environmental review of those operations.

One of Attorney General King’s primary concerns is that horses in the United States are frequently treated with drugs that the federal Food and Drug Administration has determined are unsafe for human consumption in any amount.

In an opinion letter issued last month in response to an inquiry from State Senator Richard Martinez, AG King noted a 2010 scientific study which revealed the widespread presence in horses destined for slaughter operations of an anti-inflammatory drug that the FDA determined could cause bone marrow toxicity in humans.

The FDA’s own regulations specifically ban administration of the drug, Phenylbutazone, in any horse sent to slaughter for human consumption.  Nonetheless, the study found that the FDA’s ban is effectively being ignored because no mechanism has been implemented to identify and remove horses that receive Phenylbutazone from food manufacture.  The study determined that this shortcoming “indicates a serious gap in food safety and constitutes a significant public health risk.”

Despite these important concerns about the widespread use on horses of Phenylbutazone and other drugs whose effects on humans are either documented to be harmful or are unknown, the USDA announced that, in its view, the planned horse slaughter operations would not have a significant environmental effect on human health or the environment.  The lawsuit is a response to that determination, and it asks the court to order the USDA to conduct a thorough environmental review prior to approving commercial horse slaughter operations for human consumption.

The Attorney General’s motion to intervene raises other serious concerns, including the additional and costly regulatory burden that commercial horse slaughter operations will likely impose on the State of New Mexico to ensure that waste discharge does not threaten area water supplies and environmental quality.  The imminent slaughter of horses for commercial food production in our state, following the horse meat scandal in Europe, also threatens the well-being of our local food production businesses, especially the beef industry.

Read the story and COMMENT here: http://www.ktsm.com/news/new-mexico-ag-intervenes-lawsuit-halt-horse-slaughter-plant

Political savvy: A powerful weapon in horse slaughter fight

Source: BizPac Review

Victoria McCullough may have been born with a silver spoon, but she prefers a pitchfork and boots.

The only child of the late Rexford Davis, founder of the country’ s largest, privately held petroleum company,  McCullough says she has no idea of her net worth as Chesapeake Petroleum’s heir and reigning board chair, nor does she care.

A weekend show jumper, she can often be found mucking her horses’ stalls, even though she has a staff of 13 to do it for her. Three times a week, McCullough commutes from one of her two farms in Wellington, Fla., to Washington D.C., where she has a home in the Georgetown Ritz Carlton.

Hers is a life of privilege, but McCullough doesn’t take it for granted. Money can make you, break you or give you some vision, she says, and for her, it’s the latter. For her, it has helped fuel a passion for saving the animals that have given her such joy, and purpose.

Long before public outrage erupted over European beef products that contained horse meat, McCullough was hard at work ensuring that horses and the human food chain could never mix. At least, not in the United States.

“I found out in late 2007 that the U.S. was slaughtering 200,000 horses a year,” McCullough said. “Horses were being sent to auction, and the people buying them were contracted by foreign-owned companies, mostly Belgian.”

A lifelong animal lover and avid horsewoman, McCullough couldn’t believe it. Possessing both the means and motivation, McCullough set out to stop the practice.

She enlisted the help of state Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, to first tackle the issue on a state level. Together they crisscrossed Florida, bringing awareness of equine slaughter – a growing problem in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties — into the spotlight. In 2010, the Florida Legislature unanimously passed the Horse Protection Bill, making it a felony to slaughter horses for personal or commercial use.

McCullough’s name and reputation influenced the bill’s breezy passage, according to Abruzzo.

A bloody slaughter

When horses are purchased at auction by buyers intending to kill them, they are hauled away in double-decker tractor trailers, where they are beaten and often blinded with baseball bats to mollify them. After crossing the border into Mexico, the animals are stabbed on either side – an act said to tenderize the meat – and immobilized. Workers then saw the horses’ legs off at the knee and hang them so they bleed out. All while the animals are still alive.

Once slaughtered, the horse meat is sent to Europe and other countries, where it is considered a delicacy. Horses in the United States are not raised as a food source, and federal regulations ban specific substances from being administered to animals that are destined for the dinner table — everything from cattle to sheep.

While McCullough recognized she could not control what other cultures deem acceptable to eat, she felt she could have an impact on whether those animals were safe for human consumption — and horses from the Unites States are not. Most, if not all, have been give the anti-inflammatory painkiller phenylbutazone, known as bute, which causes cancer in humans.

“If you ban Chinese milk in the U.S., why would you export this product?” McCullough asked.

In 2008, she went to Sugarcreek, Ohio, to attend what was then one of the largest auctions in the country for horses intended for slaughter. She bought the entire auction – 82 horses. The group, whose average age was 3 years old, included everything from race horses to pleasure horses whose owners could not or would not carry them through the winter season.  The next year, she purchased 263 more horses and brought them to Wellington to expose the bloodshed.

To date, McCullough has rescued 1,800 horses.

She has now taken her fight to the federal level, where the fight to pass legislation comes with much tougher hurdles.  For 10 years, according to McCullough, elected officials have tried and failed to pass federal laws banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Typical measures make it through the House but die in the Senate.

ponyBut owning a petroleum company offers a level of access enjoyed by few. In 2011, McCullough happened to be at the same event as President Obama. She “quickly and briefly” filled him in, she said, and he told her he’d be on board to end the senseless slaughter. At her own expense, McCullough hired a lobbyist, and the campaign began.

In the budget slated to take effect Oct. 1, funding for equine slaughter-house inspectors has been stripped.

“There is no slaughter without inspectors,’” McCullough explained.

But that wasn’t enough of a guarantee for McCullough. What if a new administration came in and re-funded the inspectors?

Thanks to McCullough’s efforts, the Safeguard American Food Exports, or SAFE, Act is pending before Congress. The bill would prohibit slaughtering horses for human consumption in the United States and ban their export abroad. It has bipartisan support, something Abruzzo says McCullough is adept at winning.

“She’s extremely effective because she has the experience, respect and resources to get things done in Washington as well as work across party lines,” he said. “She’s not coming from a self-serving angle; she’s coming from a humanitarian and protection angle.”

Rescue a “favorite” part of life

Victoria McCulloughMcCullough’s interest in the horses doesn’t wane once she buys them. The animals, which will live out their lives with her, receive the same veterinary care, blacksmiths and feed as her expensive jumpers, who may occupy a neighboring stall in one of McCullough’s luxurious facilities. Walk through her barns and she rattles off the names and stories behind each rescue as though they are her children.  There’s Walter, a former rodeo horse sporting 12-foot scars from spurs ground into his sides; 35-year-old Jeffery, named for his striking resemblance to a giraffe; and Sundance, an energetic gelding who sticks his nose through the stall for a loving nuzzle. She even has a rescue donkey named Jesus that would have been used as filler meat, she said.

McCullough’s friends from politics and show jumping have stepped up and adopted many of the rescues. There are 60 farms in Wellington alone hosting some of the animals she saved.  She’s looking to buy a large farm in Maryland and convert it into a rescue facility. She formed a nonprofit, Triumph Project, to raise awareness.

“Rescue is one of my favorite parts of life,” she said. “I’m going to get that legislation [passed]. I guarantee you. We are human. We are expected to be humane.”

Read and COMMENT: http://www.bizpacreview.com/2013/07/18/political-savvy-a-powerful-weapon-in-horse-slaughter-fight-79868

Horse Slaughter Plants Set August 5 as Target to Begin Killing American Horses

A Call to Action by R.T. Fitch ~ co-founder/president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

If ever there was a time to contact your Congressman, NOW is that time!!

“Don’t Slaughter Us” ~ by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Equine Advocates around the world are shocked and angry that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved applications for horse slaughter inspections at a predatory slaughter plant in Roswell, New Mexico, and another in Sigourney, Iowa.

There is also a distinct possibility that the USDA is likely to grant horse slaughter inspections at a plant in Gallatin, Missouri, in the coming days.

But thanks to the efforts of of Front Range Equine Rescue, the HSUS and others the killing will not start until after a scheduled court hearing on their lawsuit set for August 2nd. The plants attorney expects the slaughterhouses to prevail at the hearing and they are both planning to start slicing and dicing our companion horses on August 5th.

This gives us only two weeks to push our Congressional representatives to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act and shut down this horrendous specter hanging over our country’s equines once and for all.  (It will also protect unsuspecting humans from consuming toxic horsemeat.)

The ASPCA has made contacting your Congressman as painless as possible, simply click (HERE) and enter your zip code to be directed to a pre-filled in form that will be blasted to your Congressman asking that they support SAFE Act.

Please don’t delay, the horses are running out of time and YOU are the only voice they have. Contact your Congressman today!!!

UK Lawmakers say Horsemeat Contamination Likely Fraud

Source:  U.S. Reuters story by James Davey

“Everything that touches predatory horse slaughter is rooted in crime and corruption!”

Horse MeatLONDON, July 16 (Reuters) – The contamination of meat products with horse DNA was most likely due to fraud and prosecutions should be pursued, a second British parliamentary report into the scandal said on Tuesday.

“The evidence suggests a complex network of companies trading in and mislabelling beef or beef products which is fraudulent and illegal,” said Anne McIntosh, a legislator who chairs the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which published the report.

Europe’s horsemeat scandal broke in January when traces of horse were found in frozen burgers sold in Irish and British supermarkets, including those run by market leader Tesco , raising questions about the safety of the European food supply chain.

“We are dismayed at the slow pace of investigations and seek assurances that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or illegality,” said McIntosh.

The report was critical of retailers, arguing they should have been more vigilant against the risks of adulteration, especially where meat products were traded many times.

It recommended retailers carry out regular DNA tests on meat and meat-based ingredients which form part of processed or frozen meat products, reporting results to the Food Standards Agency(FSA).

The additional cost of this testing should be borne by retailers and not passed on to consumers, it added.

“Consumers need to know that what they buy is what the label says it is,” said McIntosh.

Britain’s grocers have responded to the scandal by increasing testing, while Tesco, for example, has pledged to be more open about its supplier base.

FSA CRITICISM

The FSA did not escape criticism from the report.

“There has been a lack of clarity about the responsibility of the FSA in this incident. This must be rectified,” the report said, adding the FSA must be seen to be independent of industry and given powers to compel industry and local authorities to carry out food testing.

The report did, however, conclude that the scandal, was not as extensive as originally feared. A study by the same parliamentary committee in February said the contamination discovered by that date was likely to be the “tip of the iceberg”.

The new report said testing of processed and frozen beef products sold in Britain since January found horsemeat contamination was limited to a relatively small number of products with more than 99 percent of those tested found to be free of horse DNA.

It said tests across EU member states found 4.66 percent of products tested contained over 1 percent horse DNA.

However, in separate EU-mandated tests for the presence of veterinary drug phenylbutazone (bute) in horses slaughtered for human consumption, the UK had the largest number of positive results.

The committee said a newly introduced system for testing horses for bute before they are released to the food system must continue with government and industry sharing the cost.

Click (HERE) to comment at Reuters Read the rest of this entry »

Moran Statement on USDA Decision Allowing Re-Opening of U.S. Horse Slaughter Facility

Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of an application for federal inspections at a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico.

Congressman Jim Moran, R.T. Fitch - president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, Vicki Tobin - VP Equine Welfare Alliance speaking before National Capitol during press conference earlier this year ~ photo by Terry Fitch

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s (July 2nd) decision by the USDA to approve a permit for federal inspections at a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico.”

“It’s troubling, particularly given that over the last two weeks, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees amended their fiscal year (FY) 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bills to eliminate all funding for the inspection of horse slaughter facilities, consistent with USDA’s budget request.  As Congress completes consideration of this legislation in the coming months, I plan to redouble my efforts to defund horse slaughter inspections and shut down any facilities that may open.”

In FY 2006, Congress passed a prohibition on the use of appropriations for the inspection of horses intended to be slaughtered for human consumption. Without meat safety inspections, no horse meat can be sold to the public, effectively ending the slaughter of horses in the United States.  This defund language was removed from the FY 2012 appropriations bill, allowing horse slaughter facilities to once again request USDA inspections.  Moran has spearheaded efforts in the House to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption.

According to the USDA, each horse slaughter facility opened in the U.S. would cost U.S. taxpayers over $400,000 per year in operation costs.  Requiring USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants would even further decrease funding available for beef, chicken, and pork inspections – meat actually consumed by Americans.

Horses are not raised as food animals and are routinely given substances, including the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, which the FDA requires to be labeled “not for use in animals that will be eaten by humans.”

In addition to fiscal and public health concerns, public polls have consistently shown that nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption.

(Above PHOTO: Congressman Jim MoranR.T. Fitch – president of Wild Horse Freedom FederationVicki Tobin – VP Equine Welfare Alliance speaking before National Capitol during press conference last year ~ photo byTerry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation) Read the rest of this entry »

Anti Processing Advocates Will Target Bute Ban in National Zoo Campaign

Source: Horseback Magazine By Steven Long

Advocates Sue Over Permits

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – When equine slaughterhouses open their doors in New Mexico, Iowa, and Missouri this month, their proprietors are likely to face a determined effort by animal advocates to educate a prime market for horsemeat – the nation’s zoos.Horseback Magazine has learned that a determined national effort to inform them that phenylbutazone, or bute, is prohibited by the FDA for human consumption, and American horsemeat faces a ban by European Union countries because of toxic chemicals..

The federal USDA has approved funding for the use of federal meat inspectors in the facilities. All say they will open in July.

On advocates target list – 222 zoos from coast to coast.

Bute is administered to horses and other animals as a pain killer.

In their pitch to the zoos, advocates will cite an FDA prohibition against use of the drug in food animals, as well as a ban by the European Union on the import of horsemeat tainted with phynalbutazone and about 25 other chemicals commonly administered to U.S. horses. In Europe, horses destined for food must be monitored for life and certified that their meat is uncontaminated via a diary system.

Scientists say feeding bute tainted meat to zoo animals is dangerous to the expensive exotic species.

“Studies performed in laboratory animals have shown that phenylbutazone has carcinogenic properties.  Based upon these studies, phenylbutazone is just as dangerous to animals as it is to humans,” said Ann Marini, MD, PhD.

Marini is co-author of the leading study on the subject of the use of Bute in horses,  “Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk,” along with Nicholas Dodman and Nicolas Blondeau. The Work was published in the scientific journal,  Food and Chemical Toxicology.

The drug is almost universally used on American horses and it is believed that only an insignificant number of animals have not received it. Of most concern is the fact that the drug does not leave the animal’s carcass but remains in the body for life. The only valid test for its presence is to test the kidneys where it is stored through a postmortem examination.

“In 2007, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service stated that “phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption,” said an online statement from Thermo Fisher Scientific, a firm that markets a quick test to determine if bute is present in horsemeat.

“Feeding horse meat to captive carnivores has many hazards beyond the revulsion of zoo attendees. Not only does it contain a wide range of equine medications, but it can also transmit trichinosis and even the West Nile Virus,” said John Holland, the nation’s foremost advocate of preventing the resumption of equine slaughter. He is founder and President of the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance.

Missouri company poised to get approval to slaughter horses

Please go to this story and leave a comment against horse slaughter.  Also, we encourage anyone who lives in Missouri to write letters to the Gallatin City Mayor, the Governor of Missouri, and the local newspaper.

Helpful links:

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch

Federal regulators on Tuesday gave an Iowa-based company the go-ahead to slaughter horses — and a Missouri company likely will be next.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said Tuesday that it had granted an inspection permit to Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, making it the second company in the past week given permission to slaughter horses.

Rains Natural Meats of Gallatin, Mo., about 75 miles north of Kansas City, has also applied for approval, and the agency said it could grant permission as early as this week. The facility has the current capacity to slaughter 30 horses a week.

On June 28, the agency issued approval to Valley Meat Co., of New Mexico, giving it clearance to slaughter horses — the first to be able to do so since Congress in effect banned the process by eliminating funding for inspections, in 2005. The last horse slaughter facility, in De Kalb, Ill., closed in 2007.

But in 2011, the ban was lifted when the funding prohibition expired.

The agency said it had no choice but to issue the approvals because both the facilities met all the requirements of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

“Since Congress has not yet acted to ban horse slaughter inspection, FSIS is legally required to issue a grants of inspection today…,” an agency spokesperson said. “The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter. Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with the current law.”

Pro-horse slaughter lawmakers, including Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pushed to get the funding prohibition lifted, arguing that slaughter is a humane solution to unwanted horses and brings the potential of jobs.

Current versions of legislation in Congress both contain language that would ban inspections, and therefore ban horse slaughter, as slaughter facilities can only operate with the presence of federal inspectors.

In response to the recent approvals by the agency, a coalition of animal protection groups is seeking an emergency injunction that would overturn the permit approval for both plants.

USDA Approves Second Horse Slaughterhouse, But Renews Bid for Ban

Reposted from: http://rtfitchauthor.com/2013/07/03/usda-approves-second-horse-slaughterhouse-but-renews-bid-for-ban/

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” photo courtesy of Animal Law Coalition.com

The U.S. government approved a horse slaughter plant in Iowa on Tuesday, its second such move in four days, but it also renewed its appeal to Congress to ban the business and was hit by a lawsuit from animal welfare groups.

In a statement, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it was required by law to issue a “grant of inspection” to Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, Iowa, because it met all federal requirements. USDA will also be obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant.

“The administration has requested Congress to reinstate the ban on horse slaughter,” the USDA said in a statement. “Until Congress acts, the department must continue to comply with current law.”

An application from a Missouri company was also expected to win approval this week.

Valley Meats in Roswell, New Mexico, on Friday became the first horse plant to clear the USDA review process since a ban on horse slaughter ended in 2011.

Five animal welfare groups filed suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco to overturn the approvals, saying the Agriculture Department did not conduct environmental reviews before acting. The groups say horses are given medications not approved for livestock so the waste products of slaughter plants may include pollutants.

“America is the original home of the horse and has never been a horse-eating culture,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom, one of the litigants. “Horses have been our companions, fought battles with us, worked sun-up to sundown by our sides … we will not abandon them now.”

Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States, but it can be exported. The meat is sold for human consumption in ChinaRussiaMexico and other countries and is sometimes used as feed for zoo animals.

Nearly 159,000 horses were exported from the United States to Canada and Mexico during 2012, most likely for slaughter, officials said.

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in 2006 by saying the USDA could not spend any money to inspect the plants. Without USDA inspectors, slaughterhouses cannot operate.

The ban had been extended a year at a time as part of USDA funding bills, but the language was omitted in 2011.

Lawmakers may vote in coming weeks on horse slaughter as part of its work on Agriculture Department funding. In addition, two freestanding bills would ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter.

Groups have argued for years whether a ban on slaughter would save horses from an inhumane death or cause owners to abandon animals they no longer want or cannot afford to feed and treat for illness.

It was not known how soon Valley Meats or Responsible Transportation would begin operation. A spokesman for Responsible Transportation was not immediately available for comment.

Responsible Transportation said on its website that there are 90,000 to 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States annually.

“We believe it is our responsibility to restore the value of the horse industry,” it said.

Related Articles

Lawyers behind decision to allow plant inspections – Pacelle

     (horsetalk.co.nz)

Lawsuit Filed to Block Horse Slaughter

Source: HSUS press release

In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow horse slaughter facilities to resume operating on U.S. soil, animal protection organizations have filed suit against the agency and asked for an immediate injunction. The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, Marin Humane Society, Horses for Life Foundation, Return to Freedom and five private individuals are suing under the National Environmental Protection Act, due to the agency’s failure to conduct the necessary environmental review before authorizing horse slaughterhouses to operate.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted an inspection permit to a discredited horse slaughter plant operator in New Mexico, bringing the nation closer to its first horse slaughter operation since federal courts and state lawmakers shuttered the last three U.S.-based plants in 2007. The USDA has let it be known that it may also approve horse slaughter plants in Iowa and Missouri in the coming days. Meanwhile, U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees voted in June to halt all funding for horse slaughter in FY 2014, which means that the federal government could spend millions of taxpayer dollars to start up inspections at horse slaughter plants, only to have Congress terminate the process in the coming months.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said: “Horse slaughter plants pollute local water bodies with blood and offal, permeate the air with a foul stench, diminish property values and put horses through misery. USDA’s decision to visit these horrors on the citizens of New Mexico, Missouri, and Iowa – without even conducting an environmental review first – is irresponsible, and a clear violation of federal law.”

Hilary Wood, president of Front Range Equine Rescue, said: “The USDA has failed to consider the basic fact that horses are not raised as a food animal. Horse owners provide their horses with a number of substances dangerous to human health. To blatantly ignore this fact jeopardizes human health as well as the environment surrounding a horse slaughter plant. The negative consequences of horse slaughter will be felt immediately and over the long term if allowed to resume in the U.S. America’s horses are not food.”

Allondra Stevens, founder of Horses For Life Foundation, said: “The USDA’s decision to grant horse slaughter inspections is an outright insult and a betrayal to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are against horse slaughter, to the welfare of the animals themselves, and to consumer and environmental safety. With the environmental and food safety risks of horse slaughter operations, the FSIS is leading the USA down a reckless and dangerous path due to the toxic byproducts of horse slaughter. As a nation of horse lovers, our time and resources will be better spent thinking outside the slaughterbox, working to implement more programs and infrastructures that assist with horse rescue, retention and retirement solutions.”

Neda DeMayo, president of Return To Freedom, said: “We join 80 percent of Americans in their opposition to horse slaughter. America is the original home of the horse and has never been a horse eating culture. Horses have been our companions, fought battles with us, worked from sun up to sun down by our side. They have never abandoned us and we will not abandon them now. We will not have their blood on our hands.”

Any facility slaughtering thousands of horses will necessarily be processing the blood, organs and remains of animals whose tissues and blood may contain significant amounts of dangerous substances, which are either known to be dangerous, or which have never been tested on humans and therefore present completely unknown dangers. At least six applications for horse slaughter inspections have been filed with the USDA.

The plaintiffs are represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.

Background:

  • Last month, the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations committees voted to block funding for inspections of horse slaughter plants. President Obama’s proposed FY 2014 budget also included a request for Congress to prevent tax dollars from supporting horse slaughter.
  • The federal government could potentially spend millions of taxpayer dollars to start up inspections at horse slaughter plants, only to have Congress terminate the process in the coming months.
  • The HSUS and FRER also filed petitions with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to declare horsemeat unfit for human consumption. USDA denied that petition.
  • According to a national poll conducted last year, 80 percent of Americans disapprove of horse slaughter.
  • “Kill buyers” gather up horses from random sources and profit by selling healthy horses for slaughter that bring the best price per pound for their meat. USDA reports show that approximately 92 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and would otherwise be able to go on to lead productive lives.
  • The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated blows to render them unconscious and sometimes remain conscious during the slaughtering process. When horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S., the USDA documented severe injuries to horses in the slaughter pipeline, including broken bones and eyeballs hanging from a thread of skin.
  • The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is a bipartisan measure that would outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.

USDA to Grant Horse Meat Inspections

USDA Bucks Administration, Sec of Ag, Congress, Senate and John Q Public in Embracing Predatory Horse Slaughter

Press release from Equine Welfare Alliance.  DO NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT TO SAVE THESE HORSE AND BURROS!

OK City Billboard courtesy of Respect 4 Horses and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

OK City Billboard courtesy of Respect 4 Horses and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

EWA (Chicago) – The Equine Welfare Alliance has learned from multiple sources that the USDA will announce a grant of horse meat inspections to the Valley Meats Company in Roswell, NM tomorrow. The plant has been involved in litigation with the USDA, accusing it of intentionally delaying a grant of inspections. The EWA has further learned that announcements will be made next week granting inspections to plants in Iowa and Missouri. Friday, June 28th, was a deadline set by the court for a response from the USDA in the litigation.

The House and Senate appropriations committees have both passed amendments to the 2014 USDA budget that would prohibit funding for such inspections, in essence banning horse slaughter in the U.S. The administration andSecretary of Agriculture Vilsack have requested that they not be funded. If the USDA budget in the House and Senate receives a vote, EWA is assured it will pass in both chambers, and the plants would again lose inspectors and be forced to close at the end of October.

The inspections were first defunded in 2007, but all three foreign plants then operating in Illinois and Texas had already been shut down by state laws before the courts had decided on challenges to the defunding. Essentially the defunding simply kept the plants from moving to other states.

Funding was restored in 2011 when the House passed a defunding amendment, but the Senate did not. A four member conference committee then reinstated the funding by a three to one vote. Since the reinstatement several plants have requested that they be granted inspections. How soon any of these companies might begin slaughtering horses is unclear. Valley Meats still must obtain a water discharge permit in order to begin operations, and there is some question about other permits. The New Mexico Environmental Department is expected to hold a public hearing on the Valley Meats discharge permit within 30 days.

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) is a dues-free 501c4, umbrella organization with over 290 member organizations and over 1,000 individual members worldwide in 21 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.www.equinewelfarealliance.org

George Knapp: The BLM is Not Listening

Source: George Knapp as published on Las Vegas City Lights

The BLM’s virtually unstoppable plan to round up the few wild horses that remain in Southern Nevada comes less than two weeks after the wild horse program was described as abysmal failure in a study conducted for the National Academy of Sciences.

Maybe you are one of those hard-bark, Western cowpoke types who doesn’t exactly get misty-eyed by the vision of a herd of wild mustangs majestically galloping across the sage-dotted open ranges of Nevada. You think of the mustangs as pests or varmints, aninvasive species that needs to be eliminated from public lands so there will be more than enough water and forage for the rightful end-users of the public range — cows.

You remember as a kid when you read all those history books about the vast herds of wild cows that roamed North America in prehistoric times? No? Well, maybe you learned from Western movies about how cows are native to these parts, you know, and about how saber-toothed cows terrorized early settlers and thus had to be domesticated. Clearly, in the eyes of some, millions of cows on the public ranges are not a problem and are not an invasive species, but a few thousand wild horses — which are native to this continent — are destructive, invasive pests that need to go.

No matter what your point of view might be, you have a chance this week to let the government know what you think about its wild horse program. Public meetings are being held to gauge public opinion about horse roundups that almost certainly are planned for a few places in the nearby Spring Mountains, including the idyllic mountain community of Cold Creek, home to a small, beloved herd of mustangs.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. Just because these are public meetings at which the public will be asked for its opinion, you should not assume you will be allowed to actually say anything to the government PR folks who run the get-togethers. They have no intention of standing there and allowing the public to tee off. Typically, the feds and their PR handlers will not allow anyone to stand up and speak. Rather, members of the public are allowed to submit written comments that are carefully and meticulously gathered up, and then — presumably — are promptly shredded for use in recycled toilet paper. They surely play zero role in government decision-making.

Even if you somehow pull off a miracle and manage to tell the BLM that you hate the idea of yet another horse roundup, as hundreds of Nevadans have done over the past several years, it will make not one bit of difference. The decision on when and where and how many horses to capture has already been made, and no amount of opposition to the roundups will matter one tiny bit to BLM or the Forest Service. Their disdain for the public, and especially for wild horse advocates, is palpable.

The other day at a BLM corral near Reno, three BLM wranglers put on a little show of defiance and contempt when they tried to capture a single painted mustang from one of the holding pens. Instead of saddling up their horses to enter the pens where the skittish, recently captured mustangs were baking in the hot sun, these three burly yokels crammed themselves into the front seat of a flatbed truck and then tore into the corral like they were imitating Bo Duke trying to get away from Boss Hogg. Video recorded by a horse advocate shows the rootin’-tootin’ cowpokes repeatedly fishtailing their truck and spinning around to take another run at the paint, while scattering every other horse in the pen. They even made a point of coming over to the women with the camera to taunt her, knowing that the video would make not a whit of difference to their bosses, even if it went viral.

The BLM’s virtually unstoppable plan to round up the few wild horses that remain in Southern Nevada comes less than two weeks after the wild horse program was described as abysmal failure in a study conducted for the National Academy of Sciences. The blistering report ripped the BLM a new one, and, in particular, declared the continued program of roundups and long-term storage as counterproductive — for the horses, the range and especially the taxpayers. One likely effect of the constant roundups is that the horses go into survival mode, meaning, they reproduce far in excess of what they might naturally do.

So how did BLM react to such a thorough and embarrassing rebuke of its ongoing policies? A spokesman thanked the NAS for its report, saying the bureau “welcomed it.” (Translation: Go fuck yourself.) And, said an official, the BLM will take the recommendations under advisement. (Translation: You can stick this report far up your scientific ass.) One needs look no further than the plans being evaluated at this week’s meetings — plans that call for more roundups of more horses — to understand what the BLM thinks of the NAS scientists and the taxpayers.

BLM will never stop the roundups on its own. Never. The only time it has been thwarted is when citizens have gone to federal court to fight it, and those victories are few and far between. Despite overwhelming public support for the mustang herds, the horses have fared no better in Congress in recent years. Horse advocates don’t quite match the political muscle of the cattle industry. Now, more than ever, money talks…(CONTINUED)

Please, click (HERE) to read the story AND to Comment at CL